Monday, December 21, 2009

Surfing Reviews

I stumbled upon a reader review of Afterlife on that I enjoyed:

My housemate gave this to me randomly and I liked the concept of the afterlife being just as meaningless and confusing as life, having nothing to do but wander around forever and talk to people and eventually go crazy, freeze up in fear, and get shoveled into the abyss, where you presumably freefall for eternity.

I'd be fairly comfortable with the whole affair as long as those demon things weren't flying around fucking things up. Other than that, it's pretty sweet.

Anyway, a good effort.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Creative Gigs

Over the years, I've seen a lot of ridiculous ads for writers posted on the internet. This is simply the latest. (My favorite parts are in bold.)

Production Company looking to hire a writer to write a work-for-hire, low budget horror screenplay with an existing storyline. The project should be completed over no more than a (6) week period, commencing within the next two or three weeks. This would be strictly a work for hire; the writer must waive/release and also interest in the project other than a writer credit for/to, the finished script and a copy of the film when it has been completed. Writer must also understand that if we edit the script we will share a writing credit. Compensation will be $1,000. Writer will be paid as we go along. We can discuss the exact payment terms upon our decision. We may be willing to pay a little more to the right person and only upon the delivery of a project that is so good it simply leaves us breathless. So think of it as a generous bonus to an amazing job well done!
• Must be able to collaborate with producers and production team.
• Must have own car and be able to travel to producers (will absolutely reimburse for gasoline expenses—separate from pay)
Must be available to meet in person with other members of the team at least once per week for approximately 90 minutes in the Hudson Valley.
• Must only submit original material, that means work that you—yourself think up and create. You will be entirely responsible and liable if you steal someone else’s work and get caught so it’s best not to go in that direction.
• Must be willing to sign a statement of non-disclosure. (this is just our insurance that you will not sell, share, or trade in any way, the material we have paid you to write for us, in confidence)
• Must be an experienced writer and have, on hand, some writing samples available to email with your inquiry.
• Must know screenplay format and be able to convert the files to both PDF and Final Draft.
The contact email: greathorrorscript@***.***.

I sent this out to a few friends who are writers and one of them sent me a link to another crazy ad for animation that was posted on craigslist:

2D ANIMATOR NEEDED for a very special project. We need a young hungry animator with a sharp eye and wild taste to create a 70 minute movie to go along with a concept album by AN ESTABLISHED ARTIST. THERE IS A VERY BIG NAME, AN AMERICAN ICON, ATTACHED TO THIS PROJECT. THIS IS A VERY SPECIAL, DARK, PSYCHEDELIC album and it needs a counter-part in the form of an ANIMATED MOVIE which plays on top of the album. Digital is preferred, as we would like to move quickly with this project. The look of the animation and character design should be similar to AMERICAN POP, HEAVY METAL, PINK FLOYD: THE WALL, etc..

That's L.A. for you: work for nothing but the dreams that brought you here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ender Series

I first read Ender's Game many years ago while I was still in college. I found it immensely engaging and finished it in two days. I was thrilled to discover that he had written a sequel called Speaker For the Dead. The second book is very different from the first and begins a new trilogy (not counting Ender's Game) that Card, when I started it, had not yet finished writing. Finding a free copy of Ender's Game lying in a box of books at my local library a few months ago prompted me to at last reread the first three books and finally finish the fourth. (Note: Card has since cashed in on the popularity of his creation and written a large number of additional novels. For the purposes of this review, I'm focusing on the original series.)

The first two novels are just as good as I remembered them to be. Unfortunately, the third book, Xenocide, is overwritten and often becomes whiny and more than a little annoying. By the time I hit the fourth book, Children of the Mind, I was feeling weary, and apparently so was Card. It's the least interesting of the series, and Ender, the foundation of the first three books, figuratively and literally shrivels out of existence. Even worse, Card ends up resolving many of the titanic problems the characters face with weak deus ex machina solutions that are more magical than science fiction. It's a very disappointing end to such a promising beginning.

I would still recommend Ender's Game to anyone interested in a good science fiction novel. Unfortunately, even though Speaker for the Dead is an enjoyable book, it begins what can only be described as a disappointing trilogy (I know there are four books, but Ender's Game is kind of like Tolkien's The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Greatest Flashlight in the World!

Living in earthquake country, it's important to be prepared with a few emergency supplies: water, canned food, extra batteries and a flashlight are a must. So If I could get a flashlight for my birthday, I'd want it to be this one:

Religion Makes People Crazy

My friend Joe Deasy sent me this article with the comment: "I wonder if the prosecutors were able to agree to this with a straight face. Holy shit are people insane."

Experts: Cult member not insane despite odd plea

By BEN NUCKOLS, Associated Press Writer Ben Nuckols, Associated Press Writer Tue Mar 31, 7:08 pm ET

BALTIMORE – A former religious cult member who helped starve her son to death believes he will be resurrected, but legal experts say her extreme faith doesn't make her criminally insane. The mother made an extraordinary deal with prosecutors Monday that her guilty plea to child abuse resulting in death will be withdrawn if her 1-year-old son, Javon Thompson, comes back to life. Law experts and psychiatrists said there was no problem with the agreement because Ria Ramkissoon, 22, was mentally competent and freely entered into the deal, and extreme religious beliefs aren't deemed insane by law.

"To say that someone is crazy because they have beliefs is very difficult," said Dr. Jonas Rappeport, a retired forensic psychiatrist and the former chief medical officer for Baltimore Circuit Court. "If I believe that God wants me to starve my child, that gets close to the edge, but it's very questionable as to calling that an illness that would exonerate someone for a crime."

The boy died more than two years ago when cult members stopped feeding him because he refused to say "Amen" after a meal, according to a statement of facts. His body was hidden in a suitcase packed with mothballs and fabric softener sheets behind a home in Philadelphia for more than a year.

On Monday, Ramkissoon answered a series of questions from Baltimore Circuit Judge Timothy J. Doory about whether she understood what she was doing when she pleaded guilty. A court psychiatrist wrote she was both competent to stand trial and criminally responsible for her son's death.

David Gray, a law professor at the University of Maryland, said he had never heard of prosecutors making a promise they knew they wouldn't have to keep. But he couldn't envision a legal challenge to the plea deal.

The psychiatrist was right to find Ramkissoon competent despite her insistence on her son's resurrection, Gray said.

"There is a long-standing distinction in the criminal law between fanatical religious belief and hearing commands from God," he said. "If she just subscribes to extreme religious beliefs, then that's not insanity. That's a decision to violate the law."

The plea deal was a good one for Ramkissoon, who was initially charged with first-degree murder. She received a suspended 20-year sentence and only has to remain in custody until she testifies against four co-defendants who are charged with first-degree murder in her son's death. She could be out of prison in August, serving about a year behind bars.

"Ria will be out of jail in a matter of a couple months and will still benefit from psychiatric services, cult deprogramming and whatever other services would be beneficial to her," said her attorney Steven D. Silverman.

Prosecutors are eager to have her testify because their case against the other cult members is largely circumstantial.

The plea agreement also calls for Ramkissoon to meet with Rick Ross, who has studied cults for more than 25 years and counsels former cult members. Ross said cult members often take years to realize how they've been manipulated. They exhibit behavior that "seems crazy to us because we're outside the control of the group and the environment of the group," Ross said. "In reality, what we're actually seeing is an individual under undue influence."

Original Link: